Independent appeals to Supreme Court for spot on ballot

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SANTA FE, N.M. — A Rio Arriba County activist and former congressional candidate is appealing to the New Mexico Supreme Court after a state District Court judge rejected her effort to get on the ballot for county office without submitting signatures

In June, Carol Miller of Ojo Sarco filed as an independent candidate for the County Commission’s District 1 seat, but was disqualified for not submitting the 99 signatures required to get on the ballot.

According to state law, independent candidates must submit signatures from at least 3 percent of a district’s registered voters. Major party candidates, however, pay a $50 filing fee instead of submitting petitions.

Miller sued County Clerk Linda Padilla in July and requested the District Court allow her to be placed on the Nov. 6 general election ballot and deem the signature requirement for independent candidates void for violating the state constitution’s provisions guaranteeing equal protection under the law.

First Judicial District Court Judge David Thomson denied Miller’s request on July 26, saying Miller is not sufficiently “similarly situated” with major party candidates, who go through party primaries, to assert an equal protection claim.

Miller’s attorney, A. Blair Dunn, filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court Monday.

“Quite simply, the New Mexico Constitution’s requirement that elections be ‘free and open’ and that all persons are entitled to ‘equal protection of law’ requires more of the State of New Mexico before the State impacts First Amendment rights … with respect to persons running for County office,” the filing states.

Miller has run for the state’s 3rd Congressional District seat three times. She ran as a Green Party candidate in a 1997 special election and again in a regular election the following year. In 2008, she ran as an independent.

Democrat James Martinez is the Democratic nominee for the District 1 commission position that Miller wants to run for now. There is no Republican candidate.

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